Regarding the March 23 editorial ("Fund research on U.S. gun violence"), perhaps some of that research can be directed to the question of whether so-called assault weapons really must be regulated because of mass shootings. Semi-automatic rifles have been available to the American public for well over 100 years, yet these shootings have arguably only been an issue for the last 20-30 years. Something changed, but it wasn't the availability of the firearms. If a cake turns out badly because the baker used too much flour, does he then try to correct it the next time by changing the number of eggs used?

And maybe someone can research why the fully automatic rifles the Department of Homeland Security sought to buy several years ago were called "personal defense weapons" but a semi-automatic in the hands of a citizen is an assault weapon. How about researching why when a police officer shoots someone and the citizenry is upset, it is the police officer's fault, but when a lunatic shoots someone, it is the gun's fault?

Here's some simple research anyone can do. Check out the FBI Uniform Crime Report. Far more people are killed with "personal weapons" (hands, fists, feet, etc.) each year than all types of rifles combined. More people are killed with blunt objects than all rifles combined.

The difference is the emotional pull of numerous people being killed in one event. It is a tragedy, but banning an inanimate object that millions of people use for lawful purposes isn't the proper response.

Chris Blynn, East Sparta, Ohio
• • •

Over the last year we've been working from home, going to school at home, shopping at home, getting groceries and restaurant deliveries at home, watching first-run movies at home, and watching virtual concerts and parades from home — all things we used to do in public without even thinking twice. And every place where we'd do these things is a target for a shooter. I wonder how many of us are still here, COVID notwithstanding, because we were stuck at home and not some place a shooter would target. I've heard all the excuses from elected officials about it being "too soon to talk about it" or the "law-abiding citizen" for whom it is too much of a burden to keep records about who buys and sells guns. If our elected officials can't do anything but repeat the same old "our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," then even after COVID is but a dim memory, our new normal may just be what our "abnormal" has been this last year: staying home because we're too afraid to go out and live our lives.

Linda McGowan, Blaine
• • •

Sen. Ted Cruz, in response to Democratic proposals regarding guns, was correct in saying that they won't end gun violence, but couldn't reducing gun violence be a practical and attainable goal? Downplaying the strength of the Second Amendment by stoking the slippery slope fears of repealing or amending this right ignores the reality of how nearly impossible this constitutional process would be, especially with the broad and enthusiastic support the Second Amendment has in our society. With our currently conservative Supreme Court, even weakening the Second Amendment would have no chance. So why are we even worried about it? Since the federal government was banned from funding any research on studying gun violence until recently, any broad statement saying that banning assault rifles would not reduce gun violence would be untested and ignorant.

Saying something hopefully, loudly and often doesn't replace scrutinizing and researching a problem. Why does it have to be political to ask questions or entertain new ways of seeing issues? I would be open to hearing any ideas or solutions from gun owners that could prevent loss of life rather than just punishing the offenders after the deed is done.

No one thing is going to end gun violence. Couldn't the infringement on gun owners' rights by restricting access to just one type of weapon be tolerated by the many to save the lives of the few? Now more than ever, aren't gun owners politically in a position of such great strength with little reason to fear the slippery slope?

Connie Clabots, Minneapolis
• • •

In its reporting on the shootings at the Atlanta spas, one of the Star Tribune's stories began, "A white gunman was charged Wednesday with killing eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlors in an attack that sent terror through the Asian American community." When reporting on the shootings at the grocery store in Boulder, its reporting didn't initially identify the race or ethnicity of the shooter, a Syrian American, or the victims, all white.

It's bad enough our representatives in Congress play politics regarding gun reform; do we need our news sources to play politics in reporting on these horrible events? The shooters in both instances are killers, regardless of their race or ethnicity; those whose lives were taken in these senseless acts were victims, regardless of their race or ethnicity. That's all that matters. The rest is politics.

Ronald Haskvitz, Golden Valley
• • •

Our daughter was murdered through gun violence in 2014. The horror of a child's murder always haunts a parent. A few years ago my husband was asked to testify on the issue at the Minnesota Capitol. The Minnesota representative who was extremely "pro gun" made sure the National Rifle Association rep sat next to my husband while he testified. The Minnesota representative, who was the chairman of the committee, wore his gun in the hearing room. The goal and purpose of both of these actions was to intimidate.

I am certain that responsible gun owners would totally support the common-sense approach being brought forth by Sen. John Marty ("Restore gun ban at the Capitol," Opinion Exchange, March 18). Thank you, Sen. Marty, for working to make our community a safer place.

Dianne Kocourek Ploetz, St. Paul

Not totally alike, but somewhat

I was touched by the eloquent manner in which Prof. Michael Obsatz articulated the truism that not all white men are the same and that reductionist stereotypes are always misleading, if not offensive ("Not all white men are the same," Opinion Exchange, March 25). The problem with the essay, however, is that it suggests that merely recognizing the diversity of white men is the end of the story. Although printed under the heading "Society," the essay leaves out the rest of the social story, that following the truism that individual experiences within any social group are widely disparate, there are still social facts that structure and regulate community life.

Social institutions, norms and practices have real consequences for the population of any society, and institutions such as the education system, the health care system, business ownership and employment practices, the legal system and legal enforcement all structure and regulate the lives of disparate individuals in accordance with inherent historical tendencies and biases. The fact that social institutions and social forces treat, govern or serve various social groups differently, and that those differences often favor one social group over another in a discriminatory fashion, cannot just be overlooked because the individuals within any one group have had disparate experiences.

So, of course, I agree with Obsatz's contention that it is wrong to treat all white men as if they were the same. But at the same time, I disagree vehemently with the implication that white males as a social group have not received favored treatment throughout American history, and that they have not benefited tremendously from white male privilege, often at the tragic expense of equal rights for women and people of color.

Michael Griffin, St. Paul

A bird song haiku

Springtime impetus:

weather, romance, genetics?

Don't think; just listen!

Jeanne Martin, Northfield, Minn.

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